Title challenge

A wilfully misleading title for this little blog – just to catch your attention! It’s actually about translating, more specifically the challenge of rendering the title of a work which is usually more tricky than might be expected.

And just to tease me I’m sure, a good friend of mine got in touch recently asking me just to translate the title of a thesis from German into English. Now, I don’t think I can divulge the details of this friendly assignment, which was offered to me in exchange for a cappuccino – home made and very good (see photo)!

photo of cappuccino

Home-made cappuccino – my reward

But I can tell you it really got the little grey cells going – and here’s why:

First, of course a good title sums ups and indeed condenses what is contained in the complete text – and if that text is an academic thesis, that’s probably quite complicated content!

In this case, my friend didn’t help as I had nothing but the title to go on – not saying I would have wanted the whole thesis, but perhaps the abstract would have been useful. Well, I didn’t ask!

Secondly, academic jargon quite often does not translate well – full stop. And this title was made up of little else but very specific German terminology, about didactic and research methods but also educational institutions. Now, higher education is not organised in the same way in Germany as it is in England! So I had my hands full with this one…

Needless to say, this is just the kind of challenge I really enjoy and I’m pleased to say I officially passed it – my friend was impressed by my effort! (Although it took me longer than the ten minutes they’d set as a limit – obviously very aware I was likely to get my teeth right into it. So I asked for an ice cream as well!)

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